IntroductionAccording to political scientists, “development aid plays a pivotal roleas an economic reward and punishment mechanism between nations” (Dreher &Fuchs, 2015. p. 989). Extensive literature on the relationship between theallocation of aid by Western donors to – amongst others – African nations,emphasizes that aid rather than serving the economic needs of the recipientcountry is frequently given for political reasons (Kilby, 2011). With thecurrent redistribution of power by the rise of China in international relations,foreign aid provided by countries such as China that are working outside theofficial aid structure of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), isbecoming ever more important as a tool to influence this distribution. Therefore,a need to better understand this process is warranted.
Recentyears have seen an increase in foreign aid from China to nations on the Africancontinent. Data from the China Africa Research initiative, shows that since thebeginning of this millennium, Chinese loan finance has increased sharply (ChinaAfrica Research Initiative, 2017). In the period between 2000 and 2015, the”Chinese government, banks and contractors extended US $94.
4 billion worth ofloans to African governments and state-owned enterprises (SOEs)” (ibid.) Forthis calendar year, 10 massive infrastructure projects are scheduled to launch,aimed at further transforming the continent (Pheiffer, 2017). China’s increase in aidexpenditure to African nations has led to China being branded a ‘ rogue aid’provider. This way, China is depicted as “the chief villain among the newdonors” (Dreher & Fuchs, 2015.
p. 989). Naim (2007) explains the brandingof China as a ‘rogue aid’ provider by claiming that the goal of China’s aidpolicy is “not to help other countries develop. Rather they are motivated by adesire to further their own national interests, advance an ideological agenda,or sometimes line their own pockets” (Naim, 2007). China specifically isaccused of using “their largesse to curry political favor with developingcountries, secure unfair commercial advantages for their domestic firms, andsupport corrupt and authoritarian regimes that are rich in natural resources”(Dreher, Fuchs, Parks, Strange & Tierney, 2016. p. 3).
The use of foreignpolicies, such as foreign aid policies, to attract a desirable outcome is knownin the social sciences as ‘soft power’. According to Nye (1990), ‘soft power’is a proces of applying attraction in order to get what you want (p. 166). Overthe past decades, Chinese has made Africa of particular importance to itsforeign policy. However, political scientists disagree on China’s intentions.Some argue that China has only exploitative intentions in Africa, or is onlyinterested in challenging U.S. hegemony (Chan, 2012.
p. 9), while others arguethat China has genuinely peaceful intentions and sees Africa as an equalpartner (Bodomo, 2009. p. 171). The issue of whether China uses its foreign aidpolicy as a ‘soft power’ instrument to attract desirable outcomes is relevantwhen assessing how China can influence the current balance of power betweennations and how other countries can respond to this.
For the purpose of thispaper, I focus on the relationship between foreign aid provided by China toAfrican donor recipients, and these recipients stance on the ‘One-China’policy, voting behavior in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) andmembership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). More specifically, Iinvestigate whether a realist or liberal perspective best explains thisrelationship.